the question of regulation is absolutely valid, and I do not disagree with your intent.
I am wondering, though, about the way such assessments and regulations can practically be accomplished. Obviously, it would be left to the states to regulate. Speaking for what I observe in North Carolina, our regulations and the enforcement thereof are being gutted, and I cannot see how this could work in the face of budget cuts. Regulations without teeth to enforce them are not worth the paper they are written on.
We (as an industry) may be able to do more work educating consumers (even though it is still a caveat emptor) on exercise safety. But we also have to put some burden on the consumers some of whom put themselves in harms way in their selection of exercises.
Only today, at my well-respected club where I teach classes, I observed a young man squatting with bad form. He has been approached by just about any staff member on the floor in a variety of ways to point out the potential of injury. Did he listen? NO!
I’m not sure all of the workouts need to be assessed, but the trainers who are teaching them do! What you are asking is very difficult to achieve and most likely will never happen. I wish there was a standard test for all the trainers to pass if they want to teach in this business (not just passing some certification….although there are some very good ones out there), but it’s very complicated and probably very expensive to develop and implement.
This is particularly important if our industry wants to get a piece of the pie from the health insurance industry for clients who really need to work out (for many obvious reasons). If we are going to be taken seriously, a regulated industry is the only way to go. Otherwise, anyone can say and teach anything they want and promote themselves as experts with out anyone checking to see if what’s being put out there is accurate or not. On paper, pretty much all of us look like we are the best in the world and our way is the way to go. But, in reality things are very different ,and when a client gets injured because of bad teaching and assessing on the trainer’s part, it gives a bad name to our profession and industry. I can go on and on with this topic.
Just like there is a Bar exam for lawyers, a standard exam for doctors to pass in order to receive their right to practice, or if you are trying to become a member of a Special Operations Unit where only the best of the best make it and get accepted, I wish there was an exam for our industry in order to hold everyone accountable and in good standing.
I’m sure everyone has their own opinion, but this is what I think :-)!
I think Karin and Harris make really excellent points.
One way to look at it is with the example of the weight loss industry. There is a huge societal pressure to be thin, young, and attractive. So people are willing to and in fact do spend billions of dollars. And people are lining up to sell everything from mascara to wrinkle creams, to weight loss herbs, to exercise regimens. There are certainly people who will try to tell the truth about their products: what is in them, and what they actually do, but advertising that sails near the edge of the truth tends to bring greater profits, and there are certainly those who will vie to see who can get the closest to that edge without wrecking their boat.
Training is like that…. If an exercise can promise an end result that people crave people will buy it, whether there are rumblings about increased risk of injury or not. And there will be trainers who may see someone doing really well financially and feel really tempted to move that way themselves.
Harris is right: having a standard exam for trainers will help to hold us accountable. It will also help the consumer. Now there are tons of ‘certifications’, and nothing to stop a trainer setting up his or her own shop with a less than rigorous ‘certification’. The more our industry works to creating and maintaining high standards the better. It is not a panacea. Even with physicians there are those who get into trouble in one state, and manage to set up shop in another, or those that deal out oxycontin by the handful, in spite of the degree on the wall. But having standards at least pushes the tide in the direction of responsibility, and gives the consumers some protection.
I would like to see more trainers and instructors join IDEA (or in yoga the alliance). Just reading the magazine, and seeing what current research is showing is so important. I wish there were more of a tiered cost for membership, so that part timers, or those who make less because they serve the underserved, or work in markets with less profit, could be able to join
Karin is right. There will always be those who will choose to blow out their knees, or spend a lot of money for caffeinated vitamin water. No matter what we can’t fix everything. But we have some tools available that can help a lot: Strengthening certifications, increasing the availability of education, and promoting venues for interacting with others in the industry, and outreaching with the community.